What Realism Implies and What it Does Not

Dialectica 43 (1‐2):5-29 (1989)
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SummaryThis paper addresses the question of what scientific realism implies and what it does not when it is articulated so as to provide the best defense against plausible philosophical alternatives. A summary is presented of “abductive” arguments for scientific realism, and of the epistemological and semantic conceptions upon which they depend. Taking these arguments to be the best current defense of realism, it is inquired what, in the sense just mentioned, realism implies and what it does not. It is concluded that realism implies the strong rejection of epistemological foundationalism, a non‐Humean conception of causation and of explanation, and a causal rather than conceptual account of the unity of natural definitions. It is denied that realism implies bivalence or the existence of one true theory, one preferred vocabulary or one distinctly privileged science. It is further denied that realism implies that there are no unrecognized conventional aspects to scientific theorizing and it is denied that realism implies that scientists routinely do good experimental metaphysics.



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Citations of this work

Mechanisms and natural kinds.Carl F. Craver - 2009 - Philosophical Psychology 22 (5):575-594.
Concepts are not a natural kind.Edouard Machery - 2005 - Philosophy of Science 72 (3):444-467.

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References found in this work

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Edited by Ian Hacking.
Ontological relativity and other essays.Willard Van Orman Quine (ed.) - 1969 - New York: Columbia University Press.
Fact, Fiction, and Forecast.Nelson Goodman - 1965 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Mind, Language and Reality: Philosophical Papers.Hilary Putnam - 1975 - New York: Cambridge University Press.

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